By Frank Richetti

(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association - May 1997 Newspaper)

The Jersey Coast Anglers Association's Third Annual Fluke Tournament is just around the corner, if you haven't signed up yet, Now is the time. Mail in the entry form before May 14 and the fee is only $50 for you and five guests to enjoy a day on the water and a chance to win anything from a small door prize up to the grand prize of a 19ft Cobia center console powered by a Yamaha outboard engine. There are close to 100 different prizes for this event, most of them are door prizes that you can win even if you don't catch a fish. Our many sponsors are generous enough to provide these prizes and we have to give them all away . Your chances of walking away with some kind of prize are pretty good. Registration forms are in this newspaper, fill it out and send it in. Tell a friend to register.

At this months meeting on April 29th, we will present our Sportsperson of the Year award to George Howard. As I said last month , George has been a champion for our natural resources for most of his life. I am glad to have an opportunity to recognize his life long efforts with this award.

The Hook on Fishing Not on Drugs program is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. Jersey Coast Anglers Assoc. has been a supporter since 1989 and our Youth Education Chairman Greg Kucharewski has been involved since before it was even call Hook on Fishing Not on Drugs. Greg has been tireless in his devotion at running programs that encourage kids to get involved in wholesome outdoor activities. He has organized activities programs for many schools and has given countless instructions to kids on the how-to's of fishing. In recent years he has not been alone in these activities.

The Youth Education committee and the JCAA Board have developed an award to recognize folks who volunteer their time and energies to teach our children about nature, the environment and good citizenship. This award is called the JCAA Youth Education Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service.

The very first award is being given to Eleanor Bohanech. She has devoted many hours teaching children about fish and the environment. She holds fishing seminars for kids at the many sportsman shows each winter and has helped many schools develop environmental awareness programs. Her most recent project is a book called the Aquatic Resource Manual for the Marine Environment. This book is designed to teach children about the different life forms and environments within the aquatic ecosystem and the important interdependence they each have. It also teaches them to respect and care for this environment. Eleanor has truly captured the minds and hearts of the people who are the future stewards of this aquatic resource. Congratulations Eleanor! You deserve recognition for this work and all your other contributions to the marine environment.

Editors Note:

Captain Bill Sheehan of the Hackensack Estuaries And River Tender Corp (H.E.A.R.T.) recently alerted JCAA to eight (8) applications for dredging permits within the Hudson-Raritan system. The locations range all over the ports and bays and are being rushed through to take advantage of the Mud Dump before it is closed on September 1, 1997. Some of the projects are on or near prime fishing grounds; Ambrose Channel, Raritan Reach Channel, locations off Perth Amboy and another off Flushing Bay. Captain Sheehan and JCAA are very concerned about the potential impact that so many simultaneous dredging projects will have on the fisheries this season.

April 16, 1997

Colonel Gary Thomas, District Engineer
US Army Corps of Engineers
26 Federal Plaza
New York, NY 10278

RE: Public Notices - #96/97 FBC, 96/97SH, 96/97NWK, 96/97RBR, 92-08990-OD, 96/97WPB, 92-09020-OD

Dear Colonel Thomas,

I am alarmed and very concerned with the size and scope of the proposed dredging projects described in the above referenced public notices. However what alarms me the most about theses projects is the proposed time frame for all this dredging activity.

The Hudson-Raritan Estuary is an extremely productive estuary for fish and for the fishing public. Our fisheries are highly migratory in nature and the late Spring, Summer and early Fall represent the most productive time of the fishing year both biologically and economically. I feel obligated to remind you

that several of these species of fish that use this Estuary are considered so important to the Nations economy that they are subject to Federal Fisheries Management Plans (FMPs). During the exact timeframe that these dredging projects are supposed to get underway several species that are the subject of FMPs will be competing with clam shell dredges, tugs and barges for the habitat that draws them here to complete their lifecycle.

The US Department of Commerce manages several species of finfish that depend on the Hudson-Raritan estuary for their habitat needs, these include Striped Bass, Bluefish, Summer and Winter Flounder, Weakfish, Tautog and Scup. The state of New Jersey recently celebrated the reopening of the shellfish beds at the mouth of the Navesink River and shellfishing is an important part of the local economy in Monmouth County. All of these management strategies cost the taxpayers an enormous amount of Tax Dollar$ each year. This onslaught of dredging projects will undoubtedly have negative effects on the Essential Fish Habitat of the Estuary and represents another fine example of Government agencies working at cross purposes.

I understand the reason that all these projects are being noticed is to take advantage of the Mud Dump before the September 1st closing date. However, what I don't understand, is why these projects were not scheduled during the Winter months when the fisheries of the Estuary would not be impacted as severely. I have been fishing the Hudson-Raritan Estuary for many years and have been fishing while maintenance dredging was taking place but I don't think that there has ever been this many dredging projects happening simultaneously. I can't imagine the negative effects that all this digging will have on our water quality and Essential Fish Habitat. However, I do know that these Estuarine dependent fish will be chased from place to place and will have a really hard time finding any safe haven from the multiple dredging projects.

In closing, I would like to say that I have chosen to comment on all of these Public Notices in a cumulative fashion, to demonstrate to you that these projects will most assuredly have many negative cumulative impacts on the fisheries of the Hudson-Raritan Estuary. I would like you to respond to these comments via return mail as I am truly interested in learning your postiion on these matters.

Captain Bill Sheehan


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